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Ezhunnallippu at Akkare Kottiyur temple

The scenic Kottiyoor village in Kerala, India is famous for two Shiva temples located here. The place is often referred to as Dakshina Kasi or Varanasi of the South.

In Kottiyoor, there are two temples- Akkare Kottiyoor and Ikkare Kottiyoor. Both these temples are located in the dense forest on either sides of river Bavali.

Daily rituals are held only at Ikkare Kottiyoor and Akkare Kottiyoor temple remains opened only during the twenty seven day long annual festival. Interestingly, during the festival that falls during May-June, Ikkare Kottiyoor remains closed.

Akkare Kottiyoor temple
At Akkare Kottiyoor temple, the deity is believed to be a Swayambhoo Lingam (self-created idol of Lord Shiva).

There is no formal structure of a temple here. The image is seated on a Thara (raised platform), formed by small heap of stones, called Manithara.

The festival begins with Neyyattam ritual and concludes with the Thirukalasattu. An important ritual during the festival is Ezhunnallippu, a ceremonial procession carrying the images of the deities atop elephants.

The elephant carrying the image of Lord Shiva walks in the front followed by the one carrying the image of Goddess Parvathi. The procession is accompanied by men carrying swords and shields.